Anna Gunn knew very well that her career will see a positive growth for being on the critically acclaimed Breaking Bad series, but little did she know that playing one of the major roles (Skyler White, wife of high school teacher turned monster meth kingpin Water White) in the show will earn her a hate so intense that fans are sending her death threats.
In an op-ed for New York Times, the actress noted that though she knew and was prepared for the fact that her role as someone who opposes the protagonist won’t make her a fan favorite, she obviously did not expect, and wasn’t prepared for the kind of hate that hit her in the face.
‘As the hatred of Skyler blurred into loathing for me as a person, I saw glimpses of an anger that, at first, simply bewildered me,’ she wrote. ‘But I was unprepared for the vitriolic response she inspired.’
‘Thousands of people have ‘liked’ the Facebook page “I Hate Skyler White.” Tens of thousands have “liked” a similar Facebook page with a name that cannot be printed here. When people started telling me about the “hate boards” for Skyler on the Web site for AMC, the network that broadcasts the show, I knew it was probably best not to look, but I wanted to understand what was happening.’
So she went ahead and looked – and what she found alarmed her.
She continued, ‘As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch. But as a human being, I’m concerned that so many people react to Skyler with such venom. Could it be that they can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or ‘stand by her man’? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up? Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?’
‘At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me’, she noted. ‘The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks [which includes death threats].’
‘Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her?’
The shocked actress then concluded, ‘Most people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender.’
[Photos: Getty, Breaking Bad]